HOUSTON – Obituaries are meant to pay tribute to loved ones we have lost. They highlight the accomplishments and attributes of those who have made impressions on our lives. That is why a College Station family wrote an obit about one of their favorite souls that recently passed to the other side: their pet chicken.
"I immediately knew -- this chicken's going to be a member of our family," said Stephanie Sword, a longtime chicken lover in College Station, who wrote the obituary.
The first paragraph gets you hooked: "It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our all-time favorite chicken, Big Mama. Not many chickens deserve an obituary, but she does."
As the obit continues, we learn this chicken had quite a life.
"Big Mama came into our lives in September 2013. A family friend told us about a chicken who had been spayed, raised alone in a Houston apartment, and then taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized after the family grew tired of it. That vet was a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, and instead of euthanizing her, had the owner relinquish rights so Big Mama could be adopted," Sword said in the obituary.
An email about the chicken got circulated and found its way to the Sword family of College Station. It was love at first sight.
"Our first glimpse of Big Mama was a grainy photo, showing a skinny, indoor chicken looking at herself in a mirror. We were hooked instantly," the Sword family wrote in the obituary. "Did we want to give Big Mama a second chance at life? Absolutely!"
After that, an adventure full of twists and turns began.
"We drove to Houston and smuggled her into our hotel, where we were staying to watch a Houston Astros game with extended family. Big Mama joined us in College Station shortly thereafter, and soon discovered how beautiful life could be walking in the grass, being a member of a flock, and having 24/7 love," the obituary read.
From that point forward, the chicken would be known as Big Mama.
Then, the family tackled the living arrangements. Since the chicken started her life living indoors in an apartment, they had to get her acclimated to outdoor living.
"She definitely was not comfortable being near a flock or being outdoors," Sword said.
"She would do unusual things like try to get in the house or chase guests who came. She was quirky and lovable," she said.
When introduced to her to the flock, she did well.
"She became acquainted with her new life and she did great. The flock loved her and accepted her. She became the head of the family," Sword said.
Big Mama became part of the family, spending years with the Sword clan; and she even earned a spot in the family's Christmas card last year.
But sadly, the beloved chicken's time on this earth would soon come to an end.
Sword told The Eagle that they noticed Big Mama had started slowing down recently, and on Sunday, they knew the end was near.
"She was in her favorite spot in her coop. She just went to sleep, and that was it," Sword said.
On Tuesday, the Sword family shared their loss with the world in the obituary, which is now going viral.
Even the famous College Station hangout The Dixie Chicken is making plans to remember her. It sent out this tweet on Tuesday: "She'll soon be memorialized at the #DixieChicken! #RIPBigMama"
"We were heartbroken. She was a member of the family, and it just hit me that I needed to tell her story," Sword said.
"We really wanted to do something for the family because the chicken really meant so much for them," said Adam Drake, a spokesperson for The Dixie Chicken.
"We are so touched by that," Sword said. "The Dixie Chicken is so iconic, so many people know it, and the fact that they're able to pay tribute in that way is just amazing."
The family has received support from all over the country. The Sword family has created a Facebook page for the chicken for those who are interested in sharing love for this extraordinary chicken.
"We hope to use her fame to let people know just how truly wonderful it is to own chickens (especially rescues)!" Sword said.